Optimus L7

LG Optimus L7 Review; LG’s First Android 4.0 Smartphone

The LG Optimus L7 depicts the efforts by LG to produce a mobile phone that is decent yet easily affordable for those who are looking for a startup smartphone with a large screen and high portability. It headlines LG’s new L-series of Android phones. The LG Optimus L7 is the first phone of the L-series to come in Android 4.0. The previous versions have been amassing Gingerbread at the time when Google has been on the top form to produce the latest Android Operating Systems.

LG is definitely bringing to you the latest software on a very low budget.   In an effort to produce a cheap smartphone, that is highly performing and very efficient, we shall see if LG managed to balance the performance vis-a-vis the cost of the phone and whether it’s the best deal for a phone of its kind.

DESIGN

There is a difference between building something good and building something just so it can cost low. Well, the LG Optimus L7 has been built for both. It’s been built to a good quality using what we can call “cheap materials”.   The phone weighs 122 grams (4.30 oz) measuring exactly 125.5 x 67 x 8.7 mm (4.94 x 2.64 x 0.34 in) which i shall say is very light. Considering the size of the phone, weighing that low is a very good sign that LG is considering portability of the device as a prime factor to if it’s going to sale. However, suffice it to say that the materials used have complemented the weight.

The phone has a faux-metal plastic band that covers the top of the phone and curves down to cover all the sides wrapping it all up at the bottom too. As much as I’m not a fan of plastic masquerading as metal, this material is a very creative way to bring the shiny, classy feel onto the phone, a test of what it would have been if it was iPhone 5S’ aluminum, though much far-fetched that it won’t even get that close.

Optimus L7 band

The placement of buttons on the phone is also pretty much LG-like. Nothing changed much in this version of LG design. On the left side of the phone is the volume button, very easy to reach. Pressing the upside increases the volume and the down side reduces the volume. If you have your camera on, pressing the button also takes a shot. If you are more inclined to take your photos using buttons rather than pressing the “take a shot” option on your touchscreen, this will be a handy button for you. There are no buttons on the right side of the phone, while at the top you will find the earphone jack on the left and the power button on the far end right. At the bottom bar of the phone is a usb slot for charging the phone.

Top part buttonry

 

bottom part of Optimus L7

volume button

At the back of the phone you will find the rear camera side to side with the Flash and just below it, the LG Logo. Towards the bottom at the back on your left is the speaker, neatly placed on the side you won’t notice it most of the time unless you are very detail oriented. Aren’t we all?

Optimus L7 back

The removal back cover is a ridged black plastic. Opening the back of the phone is no easy task. You have to wedge your fingernail along the cover if you want to open it. I didn’t find this to be a bid deal though but i believe it would have been better if it was given much thought.

 taking off the back cover

Below the cover you meet the SIM-card and Micro-SD slots. The 5 megapixel camera is also within quick reach of the eyes side to side with the LED flash. Below the slots is a sizeable 1700mAh Li-Ion battery.

 battery, sim-card and microsd slot Optimus L7

The Home button is tucked at the bottom, in a special way it makes the phone special, or defines the LG brand. Just like the Samsung phones, pressing the home button lights up the Menu and back buttons at the same time. It also lights up the display so that you can proceed to unlock the phone. There is nothing special about the button except its placement and ease of reach.

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In terms of design, LG have put up quite something here, essentially with materials that are nowhere near quality.

THE GENIUS USE OF STURDY MATERIALS AND UTILITARIAN DESIGN HAS SEEN LG ACHIEVE A HANDSET THAT BALANCES BETWEEN CUTTING COSTS AND MAINTAINING APPEAL.

It’s not the best phone out there because of the materials used, but if i was looking for a well-designed cheap smartphone, I’d put this one in the books as a shortlisted candidate. It won’t stand out in the crowd, and definitely won’t stand down.

DISPLAY

Optimus L7 hosts a 480 x 800 pixel LCD capacitative touchscreen with a total of 4.3 inches and 217 ppi. The screen is a WVGA display, and like most IPS displays it has great color production, and the viewing angles are nothing less than proficient. It’s protected by Corning’s scratch resistant Gorilla glass so it won’t scratch unless you seriously force it by exerting excessive scratching force and weight, which you definitely won’t do.   The disappointing bit though is the resolution. 4.3 inches is very high for this screen and you will definitely be able to see stretched pixels from time to time if you are keen to notice. The 217 ppi pixel density is also low, considering that we have seen phones close to this size housing upto 280 ppi. However, owing to the IPS NOVA unity display, most of the time, the resolution will be something that doesn’t bug you often.

Optimus L7 display

As much as LG touts the NOVA displays as some of the brightest around, i won’t entirely agree with that bit because i don’t understand why I am having problems viewing the phone under direct sunlight even when i have set the brightness to 100%. And as if the disappointments do not end there yet, there is no light sensor on the phone. I do not understand why a prominent smartphone maker will fail to include an ambient light sensor onto their phone when that is a feature that seems to come even with the cheapest smartphones in the market. If you are purchasing this phone, just know that the display will always stick to the brightness you left it at. It won’t automatically adjust to the surrounding environment because there is no sensor and as such you will keep changing the display on your own. I tend to think that LG realized they have messed up here so they chose to include the brightness option at the notification area so you will be using that button to toggle the brightness a lot.

Overall, i like the display. It’s much better than what the highly priced HTC One S’ qHD screen offers and definitely nothing close to the muddy displays we see on other phones including the One S Pentile Matrix. In direct sunlight, you will have problems operating and viewing the phone.

PERFORMANCE

If it was possible to give LG a serious thrashing of words, i would have done that for the sake of this lovely phone that they have turned into a gadget that begs for speed and efficiency. LG is known to produce phones with either Quad-core or Dual-core processors, but they chose to compromise the phone’s performance without necessarily considering what a consumer would pick as a good feature to purchase any device. Performance is very important to most people, and even for the fact that this phone costs less, it still doesn’t serve as an excuse for including the Single -core processor in this machine that would otherwise have beaten its competitors like the Xperia U.

THE OPTIMUS L7’S SINGLE-CORE SNAPDRAGON SOC IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO RUN ANDROID 4.0,

and it’s by far very irritating to say the least. This version of the Snapdragon processor is nothing close to the S4, it’s not anything to be compared with the HTC One V, nor is it a phone you can bother to include into any benchmark speeds because it will barely smash the tests. It’s the old 1 GHz Cortex-A5. Fancy vocabulary is not my liking, so i will put all that aside and tell you upfront that the LG Optimus L7 is damn slow. It is not able to run Android 4.0 and it will disappoint you, get you to smash it onto a wall if you are so stingy on patience.

SOFTWARE

LG Optimus L7 ships with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which is very heavy for the phone. Even so, the software is not Google’s stock Android 4.0; LG has managed to make a few tweaks to make it look like LG’s brand.

screenshot of homeapp menu

 

I won’t fault LG for the very few changes they made on this phone. In the early versions of Android, Google used to put very little effort in creating a final, finished and likeable Operating System. Release of the Operating system in earlier versions saw people rushing to root and customize it so they can change its looks or improve its appeal. Mobile phone companies also largely tweaked the stock OS from Google in earlier years of Android. That has since changed since Google decided to bring forth it’s later versions as more finished and final operating systems that smartphone companies can tweak only a few things or not change anything at all.

You can customize the home screen as we did on this sample. However it comes with the Phone, Messaging, Email and Camera options at the bottom of the display. To unlock the phone there is a padlock look-a-like feature at the middle of the display, you will drag it to either to the top or the sides of you want to unlock. But if you want to go to the messages or the camera, dragging the padlock-like feature towards the messages or camera or any other app/service, unlocks the screen and directly opens the required app or service you intended to access.

Into the Apps Menu, you can access all your downloaded apps and widgets. LG decided to include tabs at the top of the Apps menu, so we can see three tabs; Apps – you will find all your apps under here, second is Downloads tab and finally Widgets tab. At the furthest end to the right is a cog that you should not confuse, it doesn’t allow you to access settings. It’s for arranging the Apps menu, pressing the cog button allows you to remove apps, rearrange them and customize the Apps menu to your liking.

 app menu settings

Contrary to Previous LG mobile phones, the LG Optimus L7 doesn’t come with heavy skins as witnessed in its predecessors. LG seems to have understood that no one likes heavy user interfaces; they resorted to sort this out by producing an almost flat and very light operating system.

CAMERA

LG Optimus L7 packs a 5 megapixel camera that does not necessarily perform well. I noticed a few disappointing issues. However, the camera is good value for the amount of money you will spend on this smartphone. Its photos will come at 2592 x 1944 pixels. The phone’s LED flash does not help much in improving the photo taking abilities. It’s not entirely negligible. It’s only helpful when you are taking close-up photos. But if you are taking photos from a few meters away in a dark environment, you are most likely to capture the darkness so the flash becomes seriously irrelevant.

You will find the camera to be good enough in well-lit conditions. Most of the photos we took in bright environments including daylight were fair and to our liking. I’m afraid i won’t say the same regarding the dimmer or darker environments, it was hard finding the best shots and even more heartbreaking is that most photos were totally unusable.   It also has a front end VGA camera that is here and there in terms of photo quality. That’s because its a VGA camera.

CHECK OUT OPTIMUS L7 IMAGES IN THE GALLERY

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CALL QUALITY AND DATA SPEEDS

The phone has a very strong signal. I didn’t experience any dropped calls when trying to reach landlines. I also did not experience poor signals when calling other phones in various locations so i will give this phone a tick for strong call quality signals. Data speeds were good. If you are using it over a 3G network, you will not be disappointed unless your provider decides to slow down the network; otherwise it’s not a major concern.

 screenshot dial

BATTERY LIFE

This is a stronghold. With a 1700mAh Li-ion battery, you can rest assured that even the heavy user will find this battery long-lasting and good to sustain a whole day. For the average user who calls and texts often, and browses the internet just as much, this battery could last you 48 hours. Watching a movie on the Optimus L7 battery will see you completing a whole movie for 2 hours; maybe add another 30 minutes before the battery dies. You can stream music non-stop for the whole day and the battery will still be chugging along.

UPSHOT

LG definitely got a few things right on this phone including the design, battery life, call quality and data speeds. I would have loved to include the software into that group but nope, i think i would give it to Google if it were software design. All the same, LG fails here because it hands over a very serious operating system, to a very weak phone.

A FAIRY TALE IS GOOD IF IT ENDS WITH A “HAPPILY EVER AFTER,” BUT LG OPTIMUS L7 IS NONE OF IT.

It’s a good story that has a bad ending. I will not advise to buy this phone because you will be having a huge handset that defines the meaning of “Phone lag”. LG’s decision to include a single-core processor makes the phone slow as i have stated before. The addition of 512 MB RAM makes that even a much worse decision. Maybe 1GB of RAM would have served to provide better experience. If you are looking for an entry level smartphone i would advocate for the Xperia U, or HTC One V.

The HTC One V is almost same price as the Optimus L7, offering Android 4.0 with a better performance. The Xperia U is packed with a dual-core processor which makes it a better performing smartphone in terms of speed despite its small size. The lack of an ambient light sensor on the phone is also an issue i cannot seem to tolerate.

If you can ignore the issues i have listed, the choice is yours. I believe that making the processor dual-core would have changed so much about this device. That would have sent me recommending it to you, unfortunately as it is, i can’t find a convincing reason to endorse it. A lot of compromises were made in the wrong places in order to make the smartphone cheaper. Cutting costs in the right places other than performance would have made this a better phone.

All images courtesy of techpurge.com

6.7
Nice hardware with unacceptable performance.

Good Things

  • An excellent design for the price
  • Battery life is splendid
  • Call quality is an outstanding feature on this phone

Bad Things

  • Performance is extremely disappointing
  • Camera is neither here nor there
  • Android 4.0 seems quite heavy for the phone

The Breakdown


Design
7
Display
6
Performance
5
Camera
6
Software
7
Battery Life
8
Call Quality
8